The LeMay Automobile Museum is more than $7 million short in its effort to build what supporters call America's Car Museum and it's seeking federal money to get the project under way in 2009.
The News Tribune reports Museum officials must certify by the end of this year that it has the financial resources to construct the project under an agreement with the City of Tacoma.
On April 28, the Tacoma City Council will consider LeMay's request for a $3.5 million loan using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 108 funds.
"As we went to our January board meeting, we did so realizing that we were about $7 million away from completing our campaign," LeMay President and CEO David Madeira said.
"Donations had just dried up," said Karl Anderson, chairman of both Tacoma's Concrete Technology and the LeMay Museum finance committee.
So the museum board of directors began considering other funding opportunities and those opportunities included the HUD loan.
If the City Council approves LeMay's request, its board of directors at its May meeting could approve a museum groundbreaking for later this year.
The federal funds would permit construction of the first stage of the museum a 4.5-acre showfield and a 150,000-square-foot building that would be open seven days a week and contain 600 vehicles.
Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma said he expects the City Council to approve the HUD loan application, saying the city has a lot riding on the project.
"I think the chances are excellent," Baarsma said. "I don't see where there's a hitch. We want to see it move forward. We have a lot invested. We're deeply invested in this project."
In 2004, the city donated two parking lots across from the Tacoma Dome. The land has been valued at $17.5 million.
City officials say they hope the museum will draw tourists and spur more development including hotels, retail and residential projects in the Dome District.
Museum planners say the LeMay project will draw about 500,000 visitors a year.